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Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

Posted November 03, 2013 1:26 PM by Chelsey H
Pathfinder Tags: caffeine coffee infographic

Coffee is good for you. It's been established in many studies and even here on CR4. But do you know what's really in a cup of coffee? Or how caffeine works?

A cup of coffee is about 98% water. The other 2% is the 'good stuff', which gives coffee its pleasant aroma and the cure to 'oh my god I need to wake up'.

Fortunately not all the components have a very high concentration. An element named 2-Ethylphenol has a medicinal odor and is the same chemical used by cockroaches to signal to each other. Another coffee component is Dimethyl disulfide, which smells like rotting meat in large quantities. Acetylmethylcarbinol gives coffee its buttery flavor since it's also an element of butter. Trigonelline gives coffee its sweet earthy flavor and helps battle cavity-causing bacteria Streptococcus Mutans by preventing it from attaching to your teeth. Then 3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid protects your brain from free radical damage. Yes, coffee is an antioxidant.

But the real reason everyone drinks coffee is for the effect of caffeine. The chemical name for caffeine is 1,3,7- Trimethylxanthine. It's an alkaloid plant toxin like nicotine and cocaine and can be found in 60 different plants. The effects of caffeine can be felt with 15-20 minutes because the chemical blocks receptors for the neurochemical adenosine which makes you sleepy.

A cup of regular coffee has 95-200mg of caffeine (decaf has 8.6mg to 13.9mg) and Starbucks gives you the most bang for your buck at 20.6mg of caffeine per fluid ounce. But don't worry if you have a venti or two a day: the lethal dose of caffeine is 10-20 grams (4.69 gallons of coffee). Also, stick with a lighter roast since it has more caffeine than a dark roast.

Other reasons coffee is good for you? It boots metabolism, suppresses appetite, improves cognitive function and helps you stay alert, and can prolong the time to exhaustion for an athlete. It's also been linked to reducing the symptoms or likelihood of developing several fatal diseases.

So enjoy an extra cup of coffee today - to your health!

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#1

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/03/2013 2:57 PM

Tea: The Diesel of Life

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#2

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/03/2013 8:56 PM

"A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems."

This quote is widely attributed to prolific mathematician Paul Erdős (but according to Wikipedia actually originates with Alfréd Rényi).

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#3

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 7:28 AM

Seems to me that every few years we get an 'expert report' which states that something is good/bad for you. Give it a few years then the opinion is revised.

Back in the 50's, Fay Weldon came out with the slogan 'Go to work on an egg'. Since then, 'official' opinion has changed like the wind. Luckily my dad completely misunderstood and you have the annoyance of my company here .

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#4

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 8:29 AM

"98% water"?! Oh, you must drink the American version that was watered down to be more tea'ish. Now, granted, living in America I to often drink the watered down version as it is the only thing available; but typically I go for the strongest watered down version I can find. Because, as they say, if you want to drink a tea-like beverage... drink tea.

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#5
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 10:07 AM

I don't know where you are from, Javahead, but I agree!

Years ago, I visited Italy. The first morning in the hotel, we ordered coffee with breakfast and were asked, "American or Italian?" Well, we hadn't traveled so far to drink something we could get at home, so we asked for Italian! It was wonderful and we couldn't even blink until about 10 AM. Since then, I have been hooked on espresso and espresso drinks here in the US -- primarily latte and Americanos.

When we brew coffee at home, we grind it ourselves and grind it finer than most Americans. That is how they do it in Europe, and it gives better flavor to the coffee and makes it stronger.

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#6
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 10:38 AM

Whwn dd the expression, 'I'd like a coffee' go out the window ?

I don't get it. It's simple, 'coffe sounds good, I'll have one'.

I don't go to coffe shops now, the simple request of ' a cup of coffe' seems all too much for them.

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#7
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 10:51 AM

I for one drink coffee as a beverage, not as a stimulant. In fact I don't notice any difference in alertness with or without coffee. Now if someone could make coffee taste as good as it smells when freshly but moderately roasted, then I'd really like it.

I just returned from Europe, where I had quite a few little tiny "cups" of café. At that concentration, I find it quite bitter and must add sugar to make it palatable, and it does not quench thirst at all. Even at that concentration, I don't feel any stimulant effect.

My normal morning quota is 600 to 800 ml, with no sugar other than the sugar in the powdered chocolate that I sometimes add. I have known people who drink as much as 3 or even 4 liters of (American) coffee a day.

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#11
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 11:48 AM

In Europe, but were?. Italy, Portugal? We use coffee as stimulant, not as simple beverage.

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#14
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 12:31 PM

Western France and Northern Spain down to Burgos.

As I implied, I don't feel any effect from coffee or caffeine. I've been known to have a large cup just before bed in cold weather, with no problem sleeping thereafter. I do like a bit of brandy in my coffee if I have it in the evening, but don't have it every time, and more commonly have tea just before bed.

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#16
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 12:48 PM

Ops, I can't live without coffee. Without coffee I am a zombie. Italian expresso is not french coffee. If I drink french coffee zombi was and zombi stay. You are caffeine-resistant, I suppose. Sorry for my english (i hope proficient). :)

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#17
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 2:04 PM

Your English is far better than many I try to read here on CR4! Don't hesitate to use it.

I have seen a couple of times when going for a couple of days without coffee, I got a mild headache, and a cup of coffee seemed to make it go away. Other than that, as you say, I seem to be caffeine-resistant.

I gather you imply that the Italian express is much stronger than the French. I did spend a couple of weeks in northern Italy around 8 years ago, but don't remember the coffee being that strong. Perhaps that's because I basically don't react to caffeine...

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#18
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 3:04 PM

You are addicted. Headache is withdrawal.

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#19
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 3:22 PM

I've thought that a number of times, but I keep hearing people talk about needing their 'jolt', and I've never felt any at all, ever! I can normally go a day or two without coffee and have no problem. I can't remember a recent situation where I had to be coffee-free for more than a couple of days, so I've never come to a definitive conclusion.

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#20
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Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 3:57 PM

I drink coffee for pleasure, not for the jolt. It doesn't give me much of a jolt anyway (just a little) and it never keeps me awake. But if I go without for 2 or 3 days, I get a killer headache! Normal headache remedies don't work; but after a couple sips of coffee, I'm fine again. Yep - sure sounds like addiction.

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#8

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 10:55 AM

Coffee has been maligned for decades as a health risk. It is only recently that the pendulum has swung the other way. I bet more doctors still preach against coffee than for drinking it today. Only recently, has both coffee and the other vice alcohol, have shown health benefits. Massive coffee intake 6+ cups a day is statistically linked with very low incidents of Alzheimer's disease. Drinking coffee, keeping mentally active, getting at least 7 hrs sleep, exercising and taking some NSAID daily are your best bet to delay Alzheimer's disease. Many persons I know gave up coffee to reduce heart disease have increased their chances instead. Coffee is now thought to reduce heart disease.

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#9

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 11:08 AM

We have a process for creating D.I. water here for sensor calibration.

I swapped out a co-workers tap water filled coffee pot with said D.I. water and created a pot of coffee so strong, it growled and bit you on the lip if you tried to drink it.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 11:21 AM

Interesting - some "drinking" water makes poor coffee, and bottled water or DI makes far better in those instances.

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#12

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 11:49 AM

I like the graphic!

As indicated by the OP, this topic has been rehashed several times here. OP linked one of them.

Here's another!

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#13

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 12:14 PM

Thanks for this! I will share it for the delight of my coffee-loving friends, and for defense against the "if you like something it must be bad" crowd.

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#15

Re: Coffee:The Gasoline of Life

11/04/2013 12:38 PM

Astronut, I find those very annoying. Worse, they brag about all the crap they do to stay healthy as if they should get a metal for eating slop. They want you to do the same. I prefer medicine or figure out if there is any good or at least not horrible slop to eat.

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